Pinot Noir Vertical at Wölffer Estate

Thanks to a last minute invitation, I was able to attend a dinner at Wölffer Estate on Wednesday night. To celebrate the release of the 2011 Landius Pinot Noir, the winery did a vertical tasting of six pinot noirs starting with the 1993, Roth’s second vintage on the island. The fruit from 1993 and the second bottle, the 1995, came from a vineyard in Manorville that was eventually burned by its owner. Roth calls the ’95 the best bottle of wine he’s ever made. And tasting it, one might agree. It’s a rich dark color, with mild chalky tannins and a long smoky finish. Could it hold on for another 10 years? Roth seems to think so, since he makes his wine to age. But he’s only got seven bottles left.

Also poured were the 1998, which was very light in color, the 2002, from a good hot year, the 2006, which was a challenging year, as was 2011, but the Landius was bright with fruit and extremely floral aromas. Stock it away.

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During the tasting, guests sat at a long table next to the vines, while Roth grilled massive steaks over cuttings from last years vines. We had grilled vegetables, fresh tomatoes and a bread pudding that’s the speciality of Mindy Crawford, a sales rep for the winery. It’s was so good, light and oniony, I asked for the recipe, which she scanned and sent to me by e-mail. She scanned it people. Which means she cut it out of a magazine long ago and is still holding on to it. Which means the recipe here was typed out by yours truly, and not copied and pasted. You’re welcome!

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 Caramelized Onion & Gruyère Bread Pudding
Serves 12

3 tablespoons butter
6 yellow onions, peeled and sliced
2 cups grated gruyère cheese
4 teaspoons roasted garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons dried thyme
5 large eggs
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup milk
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
6 cups 1-inch cubes of crustless bread or brioche
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly butter 8x8x2 inch glass baking dish or 12 individual 4-oz. ceramic ramekins. Heat butter in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, parsley and thyme and saute until onions are tender and lightly browned. Remove pot from heat. Season mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk eggs, cream, milk, 1/4 cup Parmesan, gruyère, salt and pepper in a large bowl to blend. Add the bread crumbs and allow to stand 10 minutes. Stir in the sauteed onions. Transfer to prepared dish or ramekins. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Place the dish or ramekins in a hot water bath, cover with aluminum foil and bake until the pudding is browned, puffed and set in the center, about 1 to 1.5 hour. Remove foil and allow the top of the pudding to brown. Serve warm.